University Leadership

The Armauer Hansen 2023 Anniversary

2023 marks 150 years since the discovery of the leprosy bacillus. This landmark in the history of global health will be celebrated throughout the year, and on February 28 - the date of the first observation of the leprosy bacillus – we invite you to a commemoration in the University Aula.

Bilde av Armauer Hansen mens han arbeider

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The event is now fully booked. 


Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen (1841-1912) is «without comparison the most famous Norwegian physician ever» (Norwegian biographical lexicon). His greatest achievement was the discovery of the leprosy bacillus, M.leprae, first observed on February 28, 1873.

The discovery represented a medical paradigm shift in that it was the first time a pathogen was identified as the cause for a chronic disease. It also represented an epidemiological breakthrough with consequences for preventive medicine and health legislation globally – eventually paving the way for effective treatment.

Still relevant

In many countries leprosy has been renamed "Hansen's disease", in honour of the discoverer and to help combat stigma.

Many of the issues Hansen discussed are still relevant, such as the relationship between individual freedom and the collective need for protection against contagious disease.

The University of Bergen hereby invites you to the official commemoration of the anniversary.


10:15: The doors open
11:00: The program begins

Host: Prof. Per Bakke, Dean, Faculty of Medicine
Musikk: Studentersangforeningen, tenor Olve Gaugen and pianist Herman Lieberg Christoffersen, Grieg Academy


  • Prof. Margareth Hagen, Rector, University of Bergen


  • Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (video)
  • Ms. Ingvild Kjerkol, Minister of Health and Care Services in Norway (video)
  • Ms. Linn Kristin Engø, Mayor of Bergen

My great grandfather and me

  • Mr. Abbi Patrix, Storyteller and Armauer Hansen's great-grandson

The discovery: contect and consequences (conversation)

  • Prof. em. Lorentz Irgens, Epidemiologist, University of Bergen
  • Mr. Baard Skogrand, Conservator, Bergen City Museum

Leprosy today - testimony

  • Mr. Kofi Nyarko, President, IDEA Ghana
  • Ms. Paula Brandão, Coordinator, Morhan Research Center, Brazil

Reflections and the way forward

  • Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination and Chairman, Nippon Foundation

Today's challenges, and how to address them

  • Dr. Lia Tadesse, Minister of Health in Ethiopia (video)

Leprosy, ethics and priorities

  • Prof. Ole Frithjof Norheim, Director, Bergen Center for Ethics and Priority Setting in Health

Leprosy and Human Rights

  • Mr. Jostein Hole Kobbeltvedt, Executive Director, the Rafto Foundation

12:45: Lunch
12:45: Popup-exhibition, University Library's Special Collections


We will also host an aniversary webcast for international audiences, in collaboration with Sasakawa Leprosy (Hansen's Disease) Initiative. 
The webcast starts at 13:00 Norwegian time (São Paulo, Brazil: 09:00, London; Great Britain: 12:00; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: 15:00; New Dehli, India: 17:30; Tokyo, Japan: 21:00).

Click here for more information and to register for the webcast.

Learn more about the anniversary here: https://hansen2023.org/